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Part of Green Dale. Photo: Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Wood
Southwark Green Party has submitted an objection to the planning application to build a new stadium on Metropolitan Open Land on Green Dale. This Site of Importance for Nature Conservation is in East Dulwich, roughly between the large branch of Sainsbury's on busy Dog Kennel Hill and the pedestrian and cycle-path between Champion Hill and Dulwich that's also - very confusingly - known as Green Dale.
We were proud to give German MEP Terry Reintke a badge celebrating the long friendship between Dulwich Hamlet and the German club Altona 93, on her visit to Peckham this summer.
We support Dulwich Hamlet Football Club as a pillar of the local community, and celebrate its special character as inclusive and socially progressive. But we are not convinced that this plan is any more sustainable for the club than previous ones, and would rather see investment in the clubhouse, bar and sports centre to help support the club.
Where will the local footballers and fans of the future go for a kickabout, when the proposed Multi Use Games Area is just 5% of the size of the existing free access astroturf pitches?
Local resident and Green Party member Eleanor Margolies has written about the value of Green Dale for local residents here and the Friends of Dog Kennel Hill wood have written a thorough account of the many reasons for objecting to this proposal here.
We gave Southwark Council the following key reasons for our objection:
1. Undermining protection of Metropolitan Open Land
The loss of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) has become a worrying trend in recent years. The Council for Protection of Rural England's 2014 Green Belt Review notes the large volumes of open space that have been lost in London since 2009, with MOL accounting for the largest proportion of this.
Open spaces in general and MOL in particular contribute significantly to the physical and mental health of residents of Southwark and of London. The MOL designation, as you will be aware, is is intended to protect areas of landscape, recreation, nature conservation and scientific interest which are strategically important. Green Dale was designated as MOL for good reason, and twice previously developers have been refused permission to build on Green Dale fields. The intention to protect it should be upheld. The coherence of policy should thus be maintained, along with the integrity of protected designations.
This is a point that we have made before in previous applications (March 2017) relating to this site, so it's disappointing to see a further application that seeks to overturn this principle. We hope the council will not entertain such backwards steps.
2. Loss of community and social benefit
The current use of the site adjoining Green Dale for Dulwich Hamlet Football Ground and the open astroturf pitch is part of an arrangement to compensate the local community for the loss of open space when the Sainsbury's supermarket was built. Again the recognition of this social contract needs to be respected rather than overridden by any new development, lest Southwark becomes a borough where the needs and amenities of local communities are constantly eroded.
The borough of Southwark has one of the highest levels of adult and child obesity in London, with more than 40% of children overweight and obese when they leave primary school, compared to 33% nationally. Nearby facilities for informal sports have been taken away (e.g. for building new blocks on the East Dulwich Estate) making the public 'turn up and play' pitches on Green Dale more essential than ever.
The proposed Multi Use Games Area MUGA is 5% of the size of the current astro turf pitch. This reduction in publicly accessible sports facilities goes against policies 2.1 'Enhancement of community facilities' of the Southwark Plan 2007, Strategic policies 4 'Places for learning, enjoyment and healthy lifestyles' and 11 'Open spaces and wildlife' of the Core Strategy 2011, and Policy 3.19 'Sports facilities' of the London Plan 2016."
3. Unique character of Green Dale scrubland
The London Wildlife Trust views Green Dale's area of unspoilt scrub and grassland as unique in inner South London. Southwark Council have designated it a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. At a point where the benefits of re-wilding parts of our environment are increasingly being recognised across London and around the world, the developers' proposals threaten to take Green Dale in the opposite direction. Southwark could lose a unique area that supports - according to ecological assessments - foraging birds, bats and small mammals including hedgehogs. The developers' 'investment' risks turning this into a sanitised identikit space of the kind already spread across the borough.
High numbers of Southwark residents live in flats with no access to garden space. Green Dale is adjoined by two large council estates (circa 1,500 flats in blocks) and provides a crucial opportunity for local children to experience the natural world through professionally led bird- and bat-watching walks, supervised conservation work and independent exploration.
4. Further policy conflict
We note that Southwark councillors unanimously declared a climate emergency in March this year, with the aim of making borough carbon neutral by 2030. Doing away with protection of MOL and green spaces would undermine efforts to meet that target.
5. Compensatory benefits are questionable
We support the growth and prosperity of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club. However, we do not see clear evidence that the new larger stadium would be more sustainable for them than the current one. We do not want to see the club bite off more than it can chew by taking on new overheads that it may not be able to afford in the long term.
Friends of Green Dale The site includes reports on the wildlife and trees on Green Dale
The proposed expansion of Heathrow and London City airports would be an environmental catastrophe. It would mean more plane noise, more pollution, more congestion on our roads. Increases in greenhouse gas emissions would make it impossible for the UK to meet even its current, inadequate commitments to address the crisis of the global rise in temperatures.
The construction of a third runway at Heathrow (in effect, a new airport adjoining the existing one) would have the most damaging environmental impact of any new infrastructure project in Britain. It will result in 750 more flights a day (280,000 a year); the destruction of around 750 homes; two new car parks with 24,000 and 22,000 parking spaces; diversions of the M25 and A4; the rerouting of local rivers; and loss of habitats at wildlife areas including Staines Moor, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Increased disturbance from flight paths will impact Southwark residents, along with millions of people across London, including many who are not currently overflown.
At London City airport in the Docklands, expansion plans would almost double the number of flights, affecting some of London's most heavily overflown communities, including parts of Southwark. The current respite break from 12.30pm Saturday to 12.30pm Sunday would be scrapped and there would be more early morning and late evening flights.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign against London City's plans, Caroline Russell, Green Party member in the London Assembly, said: “Londoners' lives are made a misery by aircraft noise. It’s really important people have their say to stop any expansion at City airport, especially into the weekends when flights are currently banned. It’s shocking that residents have to organise and campaign to keep their peace and quiet.”
Despite what the airports claim, neither of these projects is bound to go ahead – they can be stopped if public opposition and pressure on politicians is strong enough. So how can you make your voice heard? Both Heathrow and London City are now carrying out statutory consultations on their expansion plans (Heathrow closes on 13 September, London City on 20 September). We recommend you don't reply via the airports' websites, where "leading" questions in the online response forms encourage support for the plans, alongside misleading claims of sustainable development.
You can, however, state your opposition to airport expansion by replying directly by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. You can also sign online petitions organised by local campaign groups:
If your MP is Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark, email@example.com), it's important to send them copies of your replies to the consultations. Both these Labour MPs backed the Heathrow third runway in last year's parliamentary vote. Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood, firstname.lastname@example.org) has so far opposed airport expansion.
Further information from:
View of St George's Church from Burgess Park
We have objected to the 10-storey development proposed for Burgess Business Park in Camberwell primarily because it is too tall, and will overshadow Burgess Park, harming the new wildlife area and the enjoyment of the park by local people. Burgess Park is both ecologically important and a vital breathing space for people living in densely built up areas of Southwark along the Walworth Road and Old Kent Road. This is only one of several schemes planned for Parkhouse Street. If passed, this development would set a precedent for other inappropriately tall buildings along the boundary of the park.
Overshadowing newly planted wildlife areas
Burgess Park is designated as Metropolitan Open Land and a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, and under Southwark Council’s Core Strategy should have protection from inappropriate building. The height of this proposed development raises serious concerns, given its location adjoining the park, and in particular the wildlife area of the park (which has recently been replanted at significant public expense).
The proposed development is sited with insufficient set-back from the boundary of the park and will adversely affect biodiversity, causing damage to tree roots during construction work, impacting on nesting birds and other wildlife, and overshadowing trees and other planting.
Protect mature trees as part of the response to the Climate Emergency
The tree survey commissioned by the applicant and undertaken in June 2016 fails to give sufficient consideration to the ecological value of the trees within or adjacent to the site, which form part of a green corridor linking the park with the church and surrounding streets. In March 2019, Southwark Council Assembly voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency, committing Southwark to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. To meet this target, it is essential that mature trees such as those adjoining 21-23 Parkhouse Street are protected from inappropriate redevelopment.
Breaching the aims of the New Southwark Plan
Southwark Green Party is not opposed in principle to the redevelopment of Burgess Business Park. However, we object to this proposed development, which – at 10 storeys high – fails to preserve the character of the existing area, in breach of the stated aims of the New Southwark Plan. The surrounding conservation area is comprised mainly of two-storey Victorian and Georgian houses, in some cases grade 2-listed, and includes St George's Church (1824).
The proposed development will be obtrusively visible from within Burgess Park, destroying the special character of tranquillity and tree-lined horizons found in the park now.
Southwark Green Party welcomes the increase in social rented housing to 50% in this revised planning application, and recognises that this exceeds the minimum 35% affordable homes under Southwark Council’s planning policies. However, we note that density is higher than the maximum 700 habitable rooms per hectare set out in Southwark’s Residential Design Standards Special Planning Guidance (2015). We are also concerned that the workspaces available for artists to rent will be smaller and more expensive than those in the building currently occupying the site.
The Burgess Business Park site has the potential to deliver much-needed affordable housing and workspace but redevelopment must not come at the expense of the existing community, green spaces and the council’s own Biodiversity Action Plan. We therefore object to this planning application.
Southwark Green Party made a formal response to the planning application for 21-23 Parkhouse Street, SE5 (Planning reference 19/AP/0469) making the above points.
In March 2019, Southwark Council passed a motion to ‘do all it can to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030’. Transport is the biggest single source of carbon emissions in our borough, so we need real leadership on transport to change the way we get around and deliver goods.
Here are some proposals from Southwark Green Party for the kind of interventions we will need to meet the target of going climate neutral by 2030.
1. Green our streets
Southwark's own reports show that the borough has lost 1,000 street trees in the last ten years.
We would make sure all these lost trees are replaced, and plant new trees to absorb carbon and clean particulate pollution from the air. By replacing a car parking space with trees, cycle parking and parklets using Sustainable Urban Drainage principles, we would both improve the air locally, offset emissions and adapt to higher rainfall, reducing the risk of flash flooding.
2. Put low and zero carbon travel first
We'd radically improve conditions for walking and cycling for people of all ages and abilities. We would do this by making streets accessible to cars but not convenient as short-cuts. We’ve seen this work in Walthamstow, where traffic levels fell by 56%.
We’d create bus and cycle ‘gates’ that make taking the bus faster than taking a car or Uber. This would be useful on the Walworth Road, by Blue Anchor Library, and on Thurlow St. The council could ask TfL to do this on streets controlled by TfL, like Borough High St and on Duke St Hill by London Bridge.
We would deliver a cycling network that meets Londonwide quality standards by 2025 and create Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across the borough to prioritise walking.
Van Gogh Walk, a low traffic street in Lambeth.
3. Manage parking better to influence transport choices
We propose a rush hour ban on loading/unloading for combustion engine vehicles to reduce peak hour congestion and encourage use of zero-carbon freight cycles. We’d support freight cycle services by providing micro consolidation hubs. Team London Bridge are helping businesses based in their area to find cargo bike services that suit them. Cargo bikes take up less space than vans and offer more reliable journey times, as well as putting out zero emissions.
Photo from https://www.outspokencycles.co.uk/london-bridge-cargo-bike-expo/
At the moment there’s a confusing range of ‘click and collect’ services. We’d produce an interactive map of the best places to pick up parcels rather than getting them delivered to work or home.
Southwark has fewer Controlled Parking Zones than most other London boroughs. We think CPZs are a good way to reduce the dominance of our streets by parked cars, to help ensure car owners can park nearer home, and to discourage the most polluting vehicles.
A small but emblematic action: while parking places are needed near shops, why does Southwark Council offer private car-owners a Christmas bonus with free parking on shopping parades? Instead, we'd encourage everyone to shop local with incentives for walking and cycling, like free cargo bike deliveries along the lines of the Waltham Forest Christmas Courier.
4 Enable lower & zero emission movement
We need investment to help people choose an alternative to the private car. We would roll out the TfL Cycle Hire scheme to include the whole area within the Overground in Southwark (i.e. including Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill & Rotherhithe) by 2022. We’d work with companies providing e-bikes and e-cars for whole borough.
We support the idea of TfL taking control of south London railway lines to improve reliability and quality of the service. And we need big improvements to key stations like Peckham Rye that still shamefully have no step-free access. Denmark Hill has more passengers per day passing through it than Nottingham – and is dangerously overcrowded at peak times.
Buses, vans and cars travelling at lower speeds takes less energy, and improves safety for pedestrians. We’d make the council fleet of vans and cars, as well as their subcontractors, use Intelligent Speed Adaptation. We’d push for it to be rolled out on local buses by TfL too.
5. Engage people
It’s hard to know how we’re doing as a borough, with figures buried in official reports. So we’d create a live digital dashboard showing annual reductions in emissions and daily progress in getting people travelling actively - like a smart meter for Southwark transport. How many people are cycling down the Walworth Road today? How many delivery companies have changed to electric or pedal power? We'd talk to neighbours and community groups from early on about their ideas for the methods and locations for measures to reduce traffic and air pollution. We'd test out ideas using temporary, colourful materials – try it out with straw bales and paint for a month before installing concrete slabs!
How will we pay for it?
Getting drivers to pay a fairer contribution to the costs they impose on us all will encourage other forms of travel. All the money raised from parking charges has to be spent on transport improvements, so they help improve other forms of travel. Consider how much we are paying now to keep things as they are. Asthma alone costs the UK health service at least £1.1 billion each year, with the health service in Southwark particularly badly affected. And there's a heavy human cost too. We can’t carry on with business as usual. It’s killing us.
Other parts of our plan simply involve a redirection of money that Southwark Council already receives from Transport for London.
Some of these ideas might seem a bit off-the-wall – but measures introduced by the London Assembly like the Congestion Charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone have been established without any of the chaos predicted by some commentators.
We’d love to hear your thoughts.